Our Relationship with Food

By Joshua Gale

The terminal bustles incessantly. Screens flash everywhere and it seems every pair of eyes is glued to one. As I await breakfast, plates half full of food are discarded along with eating utensils that were used for minutes. The busyness seems to be in some ways similar to the scurry of the natural world except that it is a rush toward the future and not quite here. It is a strange feeling to be amongst such waste, such distraction and yet recognize it as normal.

How is it that we waste so much? While it is common to navigate this problem politically and economically, it is also important to approach this from the human heart and spirit. As Einstein once suggested, we cannot solve our problems with the same manner of thinking that created them in the first place. Perhaps it is the way we see ourselves in relationship to the natural world that determines how we manage our ecosystems. New solutions, methods, and systems create more problems without deep thought and connection. What if the way we manage the world is a symptom of the way we see it?

Can we be wasteful of something we feel deeply connected to? And can we be connected to something which is not involved in the process of our lives? Does the neatly packaged box of baby kale greens enter your experience the same way it would were it from the very ground your feet are touching, the very hand that plucked it from the stem? Even a brief experience of direct connection to our food can have a profound change in the way we see ourselves in the world. The more we experience our state of being as homogenous with the natural world through regular connection to food (gardens, farmers markets, CSAs, wildcrafting, etc.) the more difficult it becomes to see the world as a separate resource to be mined. It is the human heart’s sense of belonging to the natural world that will lessen the need to control it for the benefit of the human alone. Conversely, the ambivalent management of food as a resource might make it difficult see it as something alive that becomes a part of us. As we watch food emerge and grow with our children, the sacredness we see in our child might also be seen in the plant she ate.

It is difficult to divorce ourselves from one of our most intimate relationships in life and expect health and harmony. Can we vitalize and sustain our relationship to food, to each other, and the natural world through fragmented, complex political and socioeconomic systems alone? Should we wait for laws to be passed and organized programs to come about before we give ourselves permission to be the change we wish to see? Perhaps change will happen as we support our farmers, give our neighbors gifts from the garden, share our skills and knowledge, and continue to build strong local communities.

The cool, moist air is filled with the friendly chatter of neighbors and children at play. Vegetables, flowers, and crafts are pridefully and gently displayed for market. The energy is as relaxed and fluid as the breeze. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to be. I shake the dirty, tan and weathered hand of the farmer that grew my dinner and am inspired to soil my hands as well.

Do Just One Thing: Get Connected with Your Food

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